How can nonprofits create sustainable programming? How can impact investors ensure scalability? How can governments spread dollars furthers to actually fix social issues?

Pay for Success answers all three questions at once. Pay For Success (PFS), a financing mechanism that allows public entities to pay only for successful outcomes – according to pre-determined measures. Outside funders front the money for programming until results can be measured, and public dollars pay for the results. If targets are not met, the public entity does not have to pay or pays less. (The Nonprofit Finance Fund put together the handy flow chart above.)

This week, Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) brought Mary Wickersham, Founder of Social Impact Solutions, and Debby Kasemeyer, a Senior Vice President at Northern Trust, to Atlanta to meet with leading foundations and nonprofits, as well as government officials. They have helped with feasibility studies, transaction structuring, providing the investment capital and the implementation of more than half-a-dozen PFS deals around the country.

What we found is that there are three main reasons to consider PFS as a financing option:

1] Pay for Outcomes: Instead of paying for a program up front, the government would only pay for a program that works.

2] Shift Risk and Increase Revenues: Instead of putting all the burden on politicians and government, PFS builds coalitions of individuals and organizations who are committed to solving public problems. PFS aligns priorities and shares responsibility, which provides avenues for better decision-making.

3] Scale Evidence-based Policymaking and Smart Expenditures: Instead of spending large sums of taxpayer dollars on the same problems we had yesterday, with little hope they will be fixed tomorrow, why not leverage others’ money with the confidence that we’ll achieve better outcomes? PFS increases the available capital, by including private and philanthropic investors, to implement evidence-based solutions that work.

PFS ultimately changes how governments consider policies; instead of focusing on input, it focuses on outcomes. PFS pushes governments to pay for preventative, instead of corrective, policies.

It isn’t always “all or nothing”other financing mechanisms, such as Pay-for-Performance (or Progress), include hybrids of payments sources and triggers. These innovative tools are convincing leaders in business, philanthropy and government to explore partnerships and think more collaboratively than ever before.

After all, shouldn’t we all seek to address systemic issues head on instead of relying on band-aids to solve our problems? Maybe then we’ll see some policy successes.

March 26, 2019

By: Ashani C. O’Mard, Senior Director of Capital Development at the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership

Atlanta is home to several inspiring placed-based models of community revitalization – from the transformative work in East Lake to the more recent efforts underway in the city’s Westside neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue, Ashview Heights and the AUC. But what about suburban neighborhoods in decline? The Brookings Institution’s “Suburbanization of Poverty” notes that from 2000-2015, poverty in metropolitan Atlanta suburbs increased 126 percent. In fact, 88 percent of the region’s poor now live in Atlanta’s suburbs. Thanks in part to social impact investments from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s GoATL Fund, a suburban placed-based pilot effort is underway in South DeKalb County, Georgia.

For many urban communities, decades of disinvestment, the foreclosure crisis, and resurgent gentrification have compounded issues of homeownership, wealth creation and equity. The very successful East Lake model championed by Purpose Built Communities has changed the financial trajectory of thousands of its residents. A very similar approach is developing right before our eyes in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods with Westside Future Fund at the helm. In fact, Purpose Built Communities is now replicating its model in 18 locations – including Grove Park – around the United States. These in-town community development and revitalization efforts are critical to scores of families and small businesses.

Building upon the lessons learned by these “Community Quarterbacks,” Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. (ANDP) has kicked off its three-year initiative in South DeKalb County. Home South DeKalb is a three-year initiative that aims to lift homeownership rates, restore family wealth, increase neighborhood stability, encourage community engagement and participation, and improve resident health and wellness outcomes in South DeKalb. In doing so, ANDP will leverage two of the most important community development tenants in South DeKalb – collaboration and investment.

Through the initiative, ANDP will invest $20 million of its existing and new capital to improve areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, especially those neighborhoods impacted by the lingering effects of negative equity – while seeking to encourage broader investment in the region by other community development stakeholders.

A critical component of ANDP’s Home South DeKalb initiative is the innovative partnership with DeKalb County Government. ANDP and DeKalb County are aligning resources to make the most positive community and neighborhood impact. Specifically, the initiative will coordinate with DeKalb County to ensure that county programs and services are leveraged to improve resident quality of life and neighborhood stability.

“The Home South DeKalb initiative complements the county’s renewed commitment to eradicating blight, improving affordable housing opportunities and enhancing quality life for all DeKalb County residents,” said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond at the launch of the initiative in July 2018.

Beyond providing affordable housing, ANDP is working with a wide array of stakeholders to improve health, education, and employment outcomes in South DeKalb. We are partnering with the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement, for instance, on the DeKalb Youth Prosperity Initiative – a four-year initiative launched in 2017 that is bringing together various stakeholders from across the health, housing, education, and community engagement sectors to target school clusters from across DeKalb County and support vulnerable children.

Stabilizing communities and improving the resilience, equity of its residents in suburban communities will require increased investment in innovative and collaborative models. Support from GoATL Fund for our Home South DeKalb initiative – and the growth of social impact investing in general –  is perfectly timed and mission-aligned.


Ashani C. O’Mard is the Senior Director of Capital Development at ANDP, of which the mission is to promote, create and preserve mixed-income communities through direct development, lending, policy research and advocacy that result in the equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout the metropolitan Atlanta region.

ANDP was created in 1991 as a result of the merger of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s Housing Resource Center and the Atlanta Economic Development Corporation’s Neighborhood Development Department. The impetus for ANDP’s creation was to address the diminishing supply of affordable housing in the Metropolitan Atlanta region as well as to help reclaim declining neighborhoods in its core. Throughout its history, ANDP has supported the creation of more than 11,000 units of housing for people of low-to-moderate incomes.

The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) provides resources to connect, educate and inspire stakeholders for the purpose of accelerating the development of Georgia’s impact investing ecosystem. Recently, GSIC announced the launch of the Georgia Social Impact Map (the “Map”), an interactive platform designed to connect and educate stakeholders interested in accelerating impact investing for social outcomes. Intended as a resource for communities around the state, the Map connects new forms of capital to sustaining and scaling solutions to social challenges. GSIC also provides workshops and programming for training specific groups of stakeholders on ways to leverage impact investing to achieve their impact goals, such as the workshop described below, which was attended by 30 leaders of some of GA’s top social enterprises and nonprofits.

March 23, 2019

By: Jeannie Tarkenton, Founder/CEO, Funding University

Being part of the impact investment “ecosystem” these days means you likely have a mash up of issues on your mind because – thankfully – the movement has matured enough to now have factions, detractors, champions, victors and losers. As a social entrepreneur highly focused on solving one problem – in our case, the problem of access to financial products needed to complete college – I have followed the arc of and commentary on impact investing. But I mostly have been playing in my corner, building a business brick by brick with my team, and learning from our early engaged customers. Over the past four years, however, I have gained a weeds-level view of impact entrepreneurialism and investing. I have a bold challenge to put forth to impact investors and to my fellow social entrepreneurs: Invest more seed capital in exchange for more equity.

Investors should acknowledge and embrace that social impact companies are uniquely difficult to get off the ground. Social enterprises work to retrain ingrained systems such as banking, food production, education, workforce training; they often work against social norms, attitudes, and human biases.

If our goal is to bring more socially focused companies to life, impact investors should account for a higher portion of angel, seed and early stage investments in the investment market. I (humbly) push you to include earlier stage investments in your portfolios AND to demand to be richly compensated for your earlier, higher risk, “rocket fuel” position. Take more equity, more warrants, more board seats, and higher interest rates in exchange for your early, patient capital.

And, now, to my fellow social entrepreneurs, I posit that we need to embrace this compact on our side. In tackling a problem that other entrepreneurs found too difficult to address, we must be prepared to:

1) Consider giving up more ownership of our companies early;

2) Be rigorous as to our concepts’ abilities to scale to a stage in which impact investment is not the only capital attracted to our business model; and,

3) Use early stage impact capital in highly focused ways that will catapult us to achieve milestones needed to attract traditional capital to our stack.

Why is this especially important now? Due to a number of factors, “Seed Stage” investments are slowing significantly, and show no signs of bouncing any time soon. (See table.)

As the Seed Stage market tightens, trends show that any investment labeled “patient” or “social impact” will naturally be trimmed from the overall pool. Seed Stage impact investment funds are already fairly rare, with A to C rounds being where most impact funds make their mark.

The upside to investors who may choose to position some of their money in Angel and Seed Stage is that early-stage capital comes with a lot of exciting, hands-on opportunities to chart the path of a company. For multi-generational family office investors this may be an ideal fit in that younger members of the family may already be asking for more involvement in investments. The ImPact wrote a detailed guide to bring these strategies to life.

The Funding U early investors and board members have given our organization valuable insights and support; and, they each have said they, in return, gained priceless insights and energy from being part of our early growth and maturation.


Jeannie Tarkenton is the Co-Founder and CEO of Funding U, a fintech company based in Atlanta and operating across the US that uses data analytics to provide ‘last gap’ student loans to low and moderate income students who are rejected by banks because they do not have parent co-signers. The Company’s mission is to remove the financial barrier to college completion while limiting student debt load and providing financial and credit education for customers. Funding U accepts debt investments for its loan fund and provides high single digit returns to investors. Atlanta investors include the Fuqua Family Office. For more information, please contact [email protected]

The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) provides resources to connect, educate and inspire stakeholders for the purpose of accelerating the development of Georgia’s impact investing ecosystem. Recently, GSIC announced the launch of the Georgia Social Impact Map (the “Map”), an interactive platform designed to connect and educate stakeholders interested in accelerating impact investing for social outcomes. Intended as a resource for communities around the state, the Map connects new forms of capital to sustaining and scaling solutions to social challenges. GSIC also provides workshops and programming for training specific groups of stakeholders on ways to leverage impact investing to achieve their impact goals, such as the workshop described below, which was attended by 30 leaders of some of GA’s top social enterprises and nonprofits.

Profile Summary:

The Issue

Social entrepreneurship is about solving problems. Tell us about the challenge you are focused on addressing and why it is critical that we make progress.

We seek to close capital gaps in metro Atlanta on two levels: 1) Strategically investing capital through the GoATL Fund; and 2) Ecosystem development through the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative

The GoATL Fund was established as the Community Foundation’s first immersion into the impact investing space. The fund provides cost-effective loan capital to address critical needs in the community, from healthy, safe housing for every family to new schools for 21st century learners and more equitable access to living-wage careers. GoATL is based on the idea that strategically invested capital can achieve both a positive social impact and a financial return. Our investments focus on the same five Impact Areas that the Foundation supports through grants and other services: Arts, Community Development, Education, Nonprofit Effectiveness, and Well-being. These five areas cover a diverse array of impacts, but our investments all seek to minimize the opportunity gap. That gap could be in Education, the quality of schooling available in one zip code versus another; GoATL invests in opportunities to close that gap. It could be in access to healthy food, so GoATL would invest in creative solutions to increase the availability of healthy food in areas with limited access. Wherever a gap exists, we’re determined to find creative solutions to minimize, if not close, it.

The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) was established to connect and educate stakeholders in order to advance impact investing in Georgia. As a founding member and investor in GSIC, we seek to provide opportunities for social entrepreneurs, enablers, intermediaries, and investors to connect. We develop programs to learn about progressive financing mechanisms. Ultimately, we hope to expand and cultivate the pipeline of investable opportunities for all types of investors and accelerate the deployment of capital from private sector, philanthropic and public sources.

Your Journey

Entrepreneurship is a journey that requires connections and support from a wide array of stakeholders across the ecosystem to help successfully identify, start, and grow a social enterprise.

In 2015-16, while working with a team at Points of Light to grow their Civic Accelerator, a social venture accelerator, we developed an impact fund to make seed-level debt and equity investments in graduates from around the US. As I learned more about the practice, it became very apparent that the market for impact investing in Georgia was way behind and much less developed than other regions of the country. While attending the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference in 2016 with others from Atlanta, we began to talk about ways to foster a more robust impact capital market in our home state. So, with a group of about a dozen others that recognized the same issue, we established the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative to help build the ecosystem for impacting investing in Georgia (more below).

Soon after, in late 2016, I began working with the leadership team of the Community Foundation on their hopes to start Atlanta’s first impact fund that would connect Foundation assets and donors with place-based investments. After joining the Foundation in January 2017, I began researching the field by reaching out to other fund managers and impact investors from around the country about their experiences and investment philosophies. As plans developed, the GoATL Fund concept took shape and soon after, with a $10 million allocation from the Foundation, we established GoATL as a diversified debt fund to make strategic investments to sustain and scale social solutions in metro Atlanta. The Fund made its first investment to Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership in early 2018, and as of year-end, we had deployed just over $3M to support diverse impacts, such as affordable housing, education, job creation and the arts. With demand growing throughout the region for flexibly, cost-effective impact capital, our GoATL team expects to deploy much the remaining $10 million in 2019.

In all of these endeavors, having the assistance and advice of colleagues, mentors and other business and philanthropic professionals has been absolutely critical. At any level, whether supporting social ventures, building an impact fund or developing an ecosystem, the contributions of many dedicated friends and associates has not only been invaluable to the process but highly rewarding personally.

GSIC and the Map

Back to supporting the ecosystem, the mission of the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC) is to accelerate the growth of impact investing in Georgia. Over the past 18 months, GSIC’s dozen founders, advisors and over 30 investment partners have engaged hundreds of other investors, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs and individuals who care about scaling social impact through leveraging creative capital. The result of this work is the Map, an interactive resource designed to educate and connect stakeholders interested in impact investing. For more info, see and the Summary Report from phase 1 of the Map.

From your perspective, why do we need to develop Georgia’s Social Impact Ecosystem and how can the Map help with that?

We find that a number of organizations – foundations, banks and corporate philanthropy, governments, and private investors – are either making an occasional impact investment or considering one. However, these instances are fragmented and few have a strategy or sustained initiative to deploy impact capital. We believe investors and investees of all types, and those entities that support them, need greater coordination, connection and education about how and when to use impact capital. So, if we can build a more sophisticated and cohesive ecosystem around impact investing, more investors will be willing to provide the capital necessary for social ventures to thrive. The Map seeks to provide some degree of sophistication; it is essentially a platform to connect and educate stakeholders in the market, to benefit outcomes through investing in promising social entrepreneurs and nonprofits. But the Map is just a tool; we need leaders and innovators to step up and put capital to risk for better outcomes.  The GoATL Fund is an example of putting capital to work for social impact, yet it’s only a drop in the bucket compared to demand in our market for patient, impact-minded capital.

Interested in learning more about GSIC or GoATL, please visit: